As a music composer and arranger living in San Antonio, Carol Brittin Chambers, owner of Aspenwood Music has achieved national acclaim for her musical works for bands and chamber ensembles at the middle school through University levels. A music faculty member at Texas Lutheran University and a performer with the Mid-Texas and San Antonio Symphonies, Chambers is a respected expert and an admired leader in the fields of music education and music performance. Opening up on how she finds joy in the simplicities of daily life, Chambers shares her composition methods and how the observation of the world around her, both near and far, inspires her creativity.
On becoming a composer:
Music composition and arranging is not exactly a mainstream job. My journey as a composer has been somewhat unique because I didn’t start out as a music composition major in college. I studied education and performance. Composition was a craft I developed out of necessity in my earlier years as a music teacher. At the time, my colleagues and I needed to get a certain specialty type of music in front of our students quickly, so I wrote it. As there became increasing demand for the type of music I was writing in the music education industry, more opportunities presented themselves. With each new commission, a new door always seemed to open, and now my pieces are purchased and performed by hundreds of school bands across the country.
On why her compositions are played by bands at varying levels of education:
Clients tell me often that my arrangements and compositions “make their bands sound good.” I believe this is because, having taught middle school, high school, and college students, I understand what the various age groups are capable of handling on their instruments. For example, when writing music for young bands, I understand what ranges and rhythms work well for them. When writing marching arrangements for older students, I consider appropriate ranges and technique, but I also know how to score the instruments in order to achieve maximum volume outdoors, as well as incorporate creative effects, pacing, and overall design. The music education I received starting at age six and continuing all the way through my college degrees played an integral part in my development as a writer, but the other important building block was the fact that I taught different age groups in the classroom and really learned what does and does not work for their levels and abilities.
On travel, the outdoors, and volunteering in the community:
Outside of music, my main passions are travel, outdoor recreation (mountain biking, hiking and skiing, in particular) and caring for animals. I actually named my company “Aspenwood Music” after the Aspen trees that surround the remote cabin we retreat to every summer as a family in Taos, New Mexico. My parents still have their log cabin, and now we have one as well, just across the road. I write a lot of my music there. It’s where my soul feels most free.
My husband and I really try to teach our three children the importance of respecting the environment, as well as appreciating adventure and learning about different communities. When we travel, we enjoy supporting smaller local establishments and discovering hidden gems like local bookstores or unique restaurants. Of course, even here in San Antonio, we try to do the same. As far as volunteering, each weekend during the year my children and I spend time giving back at the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition, cleaning out kennels and loving the kittens that are awaiting adoption.
On her personal female hero:
My mother, Helen Clark Brittin, is my hero. She has taught me my whole life to set goals and to be resourceful, to love adventure and nature, to respect and appreciate other cultures, but also to remember our roots. She was the first woman in our family to earn her doctorate, as a highly respected and highly published researcher in her field of Food & Nutrition. She is the epitome of strength and devotion, and I constantly work to emulate her in my everyday life.
Connect with Carol Brittin Chambers at AspenwoodMusic.com.
This profile was (Em)Powered by Mark Chambers of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty.
Edited from an interview by Eleanora Morrison.